The University of Louisville basketball team is loaded with players possessing top-notch talent in specific areas; three-point shooting (Luke Hancock), scoring (Chris Jones, Russ Smith), powerful dunking (Chane Behanan, Montrezl Harrell), defensive intensity (Smith).
One of the defending national champions' more unpublicized fortes: trash talking.
Head coach Rick Pitino has noticed the team's knack for noise, and admitted to New York Times columnist Joe Nocera that it can sometimes get a bit agitating.
"They are very annoying in practice because they're constantly talking trash," Pitino told Nocera. "It drives me up the wall, it really does."
Despite how their coach sees it, the players insist that the trash talk is light-hearted fun, and even in some instances motivational.
Here's what some Cardinals had to say about who they believe is the team's best trash talker:
Mangok Mathiang: "I would have to say Montrezl (Harrell). He just gets into your head like ‘Yo, I'm about to score right now, what are you going to do about it.' It's trash talk to where it's motivational. As a team we enjoy that. It pushes us, make us work harder. As long as we know at the end of the day it's just business and as long as when you step on the court you know what you're doing and (are) focused. The No. 1 thing is just to be focused."
Chris Jones: "Me, Trezz, and Terry (Rozier). That's just how I am. Russ (Smith) doesn't really say anything, he just goofs around most times."
Wayne Blackshear: "Montrezl Harrell. He just keeps talking. It doesn't get to me. It's gets to everybody else, but he knows I'm the one person he can't get to. And he doesn't just do it in practice, he's going to do it in a game also. And he backs it up, too."
Russ Smith (After being told he'd been mentioned as a trash-talker by teammates): "My name came up!? Wow, I probably don't even recognize it. I'm surprised. I have a different character on the court. There's Russ off the court and then there's Russ on the court. It's like I have split-personality disorder."
Montrezl Harrell: "Probably me. I don't know when it's going to come out, but in the midst of a game or in the midst of practice, if someone says something in a low voice to me on a previous play, I'm going to make sure I get back to them on the next play. (The second best) is Chris Jones. Most of our guards don't really do too much talking in practice, but he's one of the ones that's right behind me when I do it."
Luke Hancock: "Who trash talks the most or who trash talks the best? Trezz is the most, I'm the best."
Terry Rozier: "It's a four-way tie. I can be a good trash talker, we've got Chane (Behanan) who can be a good trash talker, We got Chris (Jones), and we've got Montrezl. So, us four. Montrezl doesn't shut up. But it's all fun and love."
Dillon Avare: "Montrezl Harrell, because he can back up every thing he says. Every time he scores he'll yell, just to get people fired up, and he's definitely the best at it."
Chane Behanan: "Trezz and Chris. I don't talk at all, when they get to talking I don't say anything at all in practice. I just let my game speak for me. I don't have time to talk. Money talks, B.S. walks a thousand miles on a tightrope."
Stephan Van Treese: "I'd say either Montrezl, Chris Jones, or Luke (Hancock). It's just really people being competitive. It's all fun and games."